China holds biggest air exercises in W Pacific
Flexing muscles, China on Sunday pressed a fleet of 40 military aircraft to conduct its biggest exercises in high seas of West Pacific in a bid to showcase its growing air power over the disputed South China Sea and the contentious islands in East China Sea.
Shen Jinke, spokesperson of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said the fleet, including H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and air tankers, conducted reconnaissance and early warning, attacks on sea surface targets, and in-flight refuelling to test the Air Force’s fighting capacity on the high seas.
Bombers and fighters of the PLA Air Force also conducted routine patrol in the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China established ADIZ three years ago over the East China Sea as it stepped its claims over the disputed islands called Senkakus which are under the control of Japan.
This is the biggest air exercises conducted by China after the July verdict of the international tribunal which struck down Beijing’s claims over all most all of the South China Sea.
Shen said routine drills in the West Pacific and patrols in the East China Sea ADIZ are conducted “in accordance with the needs of the Air Force to defend national sovereignty and security, as well as to maintain peaceful development”. Since the East China Sea ADIZ was set up nearly three years ago, the PLA Air Force has kept regular patrols. The Air Force will continue patrolling in the East China Sea. It will keep conducting various training to improve its combat capacity, Shen said.